Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nigeria for LDS teens, 1985-88

There were a number of new articles in the various magazines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about the growth of the Church in Nigeria and Ghana during the early 1980s when it was still brand new. Things quieted down in the middle of the decade. By 1988, however, the Church was getting ready to announce the formation of the first stake in Nigeria and we saw several new articles and more attention given to Nigeria. Here are a few excerpts from a few articles in the Church's teen magazine, The New Era.

Elder Cuthbert - Member of the Seventy in charge of overseeing the Church's missions in Africa - spoke to a group of young single adults in Feb 1986. His remarks about fulfilling our spiritual needs were reprinted in The New Era in Sept 1987. In it, he shares a few experiences from his time in Nigeria:
I think of the faithful Saints in West Africa who prayed and petitioned five, ten, fifteen years, for the fullness of the restored gospel to be taken to their land. Answers to prayer are not in man’s time, but in God’s time. Patience, faith, humble submission, are finally rewarded. ...
I received the assignment to dedicate four small meetinghouses in Nigeria. I had seen them under construction—simple, functional, but beautiful—gleaming white against the brilliant greens of the tropical rain forest. The local Saints had helped when they could, and the sisters deserve special mention for carrying water on their heads for two or three miles to the building sites.
In each new chapel, as we took our places on the stand, we paused to shake hands with the local chiefs who had been invited to attend and to occupy the front seats. They were dignified in their robes, each carrying a chief’s cane. The head chief at each chapel graciously accepted the invitation to address the congregation. Of course, they used different words, but they expressed the same powerful sentiments: “You are the light of this community. You have brought us the true gospel. Thank you for coming.” Did not the Savior exhort us, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16)? Oh, that we might all be a light to our respective communities! ...
I have a tape-recorded message from the Saints in Ghana, West Africa, which is very special to me. Branch President Ato Dadson says, “The Mormon Church is one big family and came to our aid in these critical times. When my members came around for me to distribute the goods, a lot of them shed tears. They couldn’t believe it. Neither could I myself. I discovered that, in the Lord’s true Church, all things are possible.
Mar 1988 New Era - Mary Ellen Edmunds - a nurse, a member of the General Relief Society Board (the Church's organization for women), and in 1984-1985 director of Thrasher International Program for Children in Nigeria:
For a short few months of my life I lived in western Africa, in Nigeria. In our branch was a precious little child I called “Broomstick.” She was 7 years old and weighed only 23 pounds. Often as I would enter our rented chapel, she’d be sitting on the back bench. I loved to pick her up and take her to the front with me and hold her during the meetings. It was as if she would soak up all the love that I had in me, and more. But it was always replaced and increased.
In May 1988, Elder Robert E. Sackley was called to be a member of the Seventy. He had been serving as the president of the Lagos Nigeria Mission at the time. He was also the first Australian called to be a General Authority.

More LDS in Nigeria.